Driving while on the phone risks lives

ABC7 Eyewitness News: What's Bugging You?
LOS ANGELES It's against the law, but some drivers don't even try to hide it. Driving and talking on the phone bugs a lot of viewers who sent in e-mails.

Officers say they've heard all the excuses. Drivers Eyewitness News spoke with say they know it's against the law, and they admitted what they were doing.

"Yeah, I was caught," said one driver who was pulled over for using his mobile phone while driving. "I absolutely agree. Drivers need to focus on the road."

"In that situation, I had a call from my wife who was dropping off the kids," said driver Michael Lester. "I picked it up real quick and went, 'What's the matter?' ... I don't want my sons to do it. I bought two cars for them -- they shouldn't be doing it."

In 2008 nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured in car crashes caused by distracted driving. The /*U.S. Department of Transportation*/ report says using a mobile phone is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk.

"Instinctively, when people hear the phone ring, are going to pick it up," said Calif. Highway Patrol Officer Leland Tang. "And then it's an afterthought when they realize, 'Oops, I'm not supposed to be doing that.'"

"The texting is worse than the cell phone," said Lester. "Because on a cell phone, they [put the phone to their ear], they're still looking forward. But on the texting, you see people [looking down] all the time."

Young drivers get into the most accidents while texting or using cell phones. Officers say you can use a Bluetooth earpiece to talk on the phone, but you can still be distracted. The safest thing is not to talk at all.

"Let it go to voice-mail," said Officer Tang. "And then just pick it up or check your messages afterwards when you get to your location."

The AAA Auto Club is trying to pass laws banning all text messaging by drivers in all 50 states by 2013. The best advice is: Don't talk and drive.

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